Repair.IT – Overheating Presario SR5120AN motherboard

Remember two and a half years ago, approximately, I repaired my Compaq Presario SR5120AN motherboard which had a number of failed capacitors?  Ok, it was some time ago, so here is the link.

https://j0hn88.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/reveal-it-faulty-capacitors-on-presario-sr5120an-motherboard/

At the time, five capacitors had failed, but there were still four others of the same brand and size on the motherboard. I checked them with an ESR meter and they all passed. Fast forward to a month ago – I noticed that my computer cpu fan was getting louder, sometimes normal then suddenly high speed and this kept happening. I ran a utility to check the CPU temperature and it was …  99 degrees, wow! No wonder the fan was on turbos a lot of the time.

I shut down and took the computer apart to reveal the motherboard.

DSC_0308

Two of those same original capacitors were showing the symptoms of failure – see the bulging top and black spots. After some effort, I was able to remove these two capacitors, then replace them with the ones in that little bag – I originally bought ten of these 1800uF 6.3V electrolytic high temperature capacitors. I checked the remaining two on the board and they check out fine.

So, reassemble the computer, and power on – leave it on for a while, and I can see that the CPU temperature is sitting reasonably stable at about 80 degrees. This is still quite hot and would appear to be still abnormal. Since I still have three spares left over, why not just replace the remaining two capacitors and be done with it.

That is what I did – took out the other two capacitors, replaced them with new ones. While I was doing this, I checked the capacitors with my ESR meter, which showed that these two were still ok, but anyway I have new ones in the motherboard now. Once the computer was up and running again, leave it for a while and then it was looking good so I decided to run the Passmark Performance Test, which stresses out the computer.

OpenHardwareMonitor

This is what the CPU and graphics card temperatures were during the test and then the cooldown period afterwards. The CPU maximum went to about 93 degrees but then back down and sitting stable at 54-60 degrees. This is amazing and shows that even though the ESR meter indicated that the capacitors were ok, replacing them reduced the average temperature dramatically. Why is that – maybe the capacitance has changed? Wait, I can check this!

Just over a year ago, I had bought from eBay, a Mega328 Transistor and component tester. I can connect the parts I have removed and compare with new parts.

These two are the failed capacitors. They appear to be back to back diodes with differing forward voltages.

DSC_0319

Here is a new one – my final remaining capacitor. The value is 1829uF, ESR is good, with Vloss of 2.5%.

Here are the two apparently good ones that I replaced. These also appear to be good as far as the tester is concerned, however replacing these two also brought down my average temperature of the CPU. Why? I don’t really have an answer for this, but maybe someone has.

Right now as I am writing this, my CPU temperature is sitting at around 80 degrees, with CPU load at about 85% since my antivirus scan has been running for some time, but certainly nowhere near the 99 degrees at idle that it was a month ago. It has been a few weeks now, and all seems to be well.

Replace.IT – Laser Switch on my Makita LS1017L Sliding Compound Saw – finally!

A couple of months ago, I mentioned how the laser switch on my Makita saw didn’t turn on the laser. I had pushed a piece of foam between the contacts, which made the switch work. Well, it did work – for quite some time, at least until yesterday afternoon – when I was trying to cut some of the final pieces of decking board.

My deck was completed, and what I was doing was to use the decking board to place on top of my raised garden bed to make it look nicer and also to have a place to sit when working on the veggies. Anyway, it was getting late, so I left it until this morning.

I needed to cut a couple of final pieces of board, and the laser would not come on – so I got out the replacement switch that I had purchased back then, and opened the switch cover. The foam had become compressed after all this time, so was not doing its job – therefore it was better to replace it finally. After removing the two wires that have spade terminals attached, it was an easy matter to use a small screwdriver and unclip the original switch. The new switch fit into place with a slight bit of force, and then the two wires attached, and screwed the cover back on.

The laser came on – great – and I quickly cut the boards, and now – I don’t have anything to use the saw for. Well, I will think of something – maybe a bench seat to fit onto the deck, yes – that sounds good, as I have a lot of ACQ treated pine left over from the garden beds – which is another story.

Replace.IT – LCD Screen for Compaq Presario V6002AU

I had this Compaq Presario V6002AU 15.4″ laptop sitting around for a little while – as they do. This laptop had a bad lcd screen, in that the display is dim and doesn’t look like anything is recognizable. I had taken it apart to check the screen. I have a copy of the Maintenance and Service Guide for this laptop. This guide shows how to open and replace parts of the laptop and is a must-have if you are to do this properly without damaging any of the plastics or component boards. Most of the time, these guides are quite accurate – and occasionally they might leave out an instruction or two, like in this case, remove the front panel switch cover requires removing three screws instead of two screws.

Ok, that isn’t the topic of today’s post – but the lcd screen is. The Compaq spare part number for the lcd screen is 431386-001, which is with BrightView, i.e. glossy. I duly went on Google to check whether this panel was available, and found a local supplier on eBay that had this for $81.99 including free postage. Ok, so I ordered it, and when it arrived, I noticed that the backlight cable was a little short. I compared panel part numbers – my original panel is a LG Philips LP154W01 (TL)(AE). The replacement panel is a LP154WX4 so I contacted the seller and we conversed via eBay and email. Anyway after explaining that the backlight cable was too short by about 2cm, I asked whether or not they had a LP154W01 (TL)(AE) in stock.

They came back to me by asking me to cut the backlight cable, and take the old backlight cable and join it to the replacement panel, and that way it should reach. I replied that this is not recommended especially since the backlight voltages are very high, usually from 500 to 900Volts. The wires have silicone insulation and if I do cut it and repair, it can form a leakage point, whereby some of the time, the display becomes dim, due to the backlight not lighting properly. Not to mention voiding the panel warranty if it should fail and then they say that the panel has been tampered with. Anyway, the solution to this eBay panel is that they asked me to send it back and they will refund me.

Now, I could find the required panel, but at a higher price, about $115 – but then it isn’t really worth it. I decided to scrounge around my old broken laptops and eventually came across a Compaq Presario V4000 with the same size screen. Ok, maybe I can use this so proceeded to remove the screen from the laptop. This screen is a LTN154X3-L01 – however the backlight cable is long enough, and the lvds connector is in the right place. I obtained the datasheet for this screen, and confirmed the pin configuration of the lvds connector is the same and the original screen. The resolution is the same, so how about I try it out? I connected this screen temporarily and powered on the laptop and was greeted with a Compaq power up screen, ok – great, so switched off and proceeded to install the screen properly.

After everything was put back in place, I had zero screws left over – always a good feeling. I power up and it wouldn’t power on – now what. Then I realize that maybe the battery is flat. It just happens that one reason I wanted to resurrect this laptop is that it uses the same battery as a HP Pavilion laptop that we had had for many years, which I have a spare battery for. I grabbed the spare battery and put it in and powered on – success, the laptop booted into Windows XP Professional. This laptop only has 1GB of ram and can handle up to 2GB maximum. I think I will use this as my Windows 10 test machine, or perhaps just run Linux on it.

The moral of the story is that quite often lcd screens from different laptops can be compatible as long as the lvds connector is the same and it is located in the right place. This one had a 30 pin lvds connector, but it is always good to compare pin configuration just in case one screen doesn’t use the standard wiring – don’t want to damage a good screen or damage a laptop motherboard.

P.S. No pictures, since a working laptop is … a working laptop.

Repair.IT, Replace.IT – Paging PC not booting

On Saturday, a PC was delivered to me – an urgent repair job.  The PC has an 8-port serial card in it and is used to send messages to pagers – yes, pagers are still being used.  Anyway, the symptoms described are that it keeps rebooting – which very much sounds like hardware, but can be software.

On closer inspection, I noticed that a number of capacitors on the motherboard were bulging, a sure sign of over-temperature which causes the electrolyte inside to become pressurized almost to the point of opening the vents – some were open, you can see the dark marks on top of the can.  Anyway, replacing the capacitors is really not an option, hence a replacement motherboard is required.  I proceeded to check the motherboard model and found that it has a LGA775 processor.  Luckily there is still one motherboard available – a Gigabyte GA-G41M-Combo which will work, but it has DDR2 or DDR3 ram.  The old motherboard had only DDR ram – one 256MB module.  Anyway, as I would have to wait until Monday to obtain the parts needed, I thought I would power it up anyway.  It wouldn’t power up – or rather, it wouldn’t stay powered up.

I removed the power supply and connected my PSU Tester – it turns on then blinks off.  Ok – a power supply is also needed.  I connected my test power supply and proceeded to power up.  I can see the bios screen come up, but pressing Del on the keyboard doesn’t go into setup – strange.  Anyway, I see that it goes a little bit, then a beep and it resets again – so this is the symtom that the customer reported.  I proceeded to remove the heatsink, and processor – which was an Intel Celeron D 346 running at 3.06GHz.  It was then that I saw more capacitors that had failed, hiding under the heatsink.

SONY DSC

Sharp eyes will see three on the right of the cpu socket, then a few more spread around the heatsink in the middle of the motherboard.  On Monday, I went out and picked up the new motherboard and a new 550W power supply.  Then I went out mid morning and disaster struck – my car broke down, overheating.  The car isn’t really part of this story, but suffice to say that 4.5 hrs later, my car has been towed to my local motor mechanic and I am home, having a cup of coffee and a sandwich.  Back to work – I proceeded to install the processor, using Arctic Silver 5 for the heatsink compound.  Don’t forget that I am reusing the cpu and heatsink, so have to clean all the old thermal compound off, then tint the cpu top and heatsink, then a smidgeon of Arctic Silver 5 – supposed to be 2.5 cubic millimeters or about a grain of rice.

Installed two pieces of 256MB DDR2 ram – double the original ram, will make it work better, but obviously it is only running a simple application so it isn’t necessary to have more memory.  Installed the power supply – connected up all the cables to the DVD-Rom, floppy drive and hard disk drive.  Power up – keyboard not working, USB mouse not working – ok, what gives?  Power off then back on – same thing.  It seems that the keyboard doesn’t work.  I have a spare PS/2 keyboard somewhere – ok, got it and tried again – good, my keyboard is working, but mouse isn’t.

Windows XP Professional – with a change of hardware will require reactivation.  Choose not to, because the network isn’t working.  I try to eject the dvd-rom, but nothing happens – it has failed too!  I downloaded the network driver from the Gigabyte website, since for some reason, the supplied driver cd won’t read on my laptop – then put the driver onto a usb flash disk, and used that to get the network driver installed.  Continue with driver installation – there are lots of drivers needed, eventually I got most of them done, then had to find the video driver, sound driver and last of all – the drivers for the Decision PCCOM PCI 8 Port serial card, which I can’t seem to find quickly.  No choice then but to get Windows to tell me which driver is wanted, then copy it out of the windows folder and point the hardware install to that location, and keep doing this for the other 8 files needed.  The drivers were already there, so I just had to find them and put them somewhere for windows to copy again.

So, a couple of hours later, everything is updated – Windows wants to install some XP updates – so agree to them, and eventually got it updated except for SP3 – I decided not to do this, because sometimes applications stop working when that is installed.  Oh, by the way, the floppy drive also had failed, but luckily the hard disk drive was still working.  How about that?  Power supply, motherboard, dvd-rom drive, floppy drive and keyboard had failed.  The USB mouse eventually worked after the drivers were installed – weird.

Final word – the Paging PC has been Repaired, with mostly everything in it Replaced – so that was “Repair.IT” and “Replace.IT“.

[Note] I think that the power supply was starting to fail – maybe introducing a lot of ripple onto the supply lines, which caused the capacitors to overheat – because they are trying to smooth the DC voltage.  Then eventually the power supply failed more such that the keyboard, dvd-rom and floppy drive was destroyed.  The USB mouse was still ok, so that only uses 5V and the drives use 12V – but why the keyboard – I can’t explain that.  So eventually the power supply failed completely and stopped turning on – at least for me.  The DDR ram might still work, but I need to find an old computer to test it.  When I get a bit of time, I may go through the exercise of replacing the failed capacitors and look at fixing the power supply, but at least the customer is happy now.

Replace.IT – FSP Aurum Pro 1000W Power Supply with Corsair HX650W

The last day and a half was quiet as our internet had been capped until this morning. During that time I have been having a struggle with the FSP Aurum Pro 1000W power supply unit that I installed into my new VMware ESXi 5.5U2 server.  I was using the VMware OVF Tool to export virtual machines from my old server to the new server and large machines would take a long time to copy – so I left it running overnight.  I was finding that the new server would be off.

It seems that after running for a time the power supply shuts down.  I remembered that I had faced this problem before during my cryptomining phase, but now I am not running that sort of power – my power meter indicates that power consumption of the new server is only 120W – low enough that the power supply should be able to handle it with ease. Unfortunately, that is not the case – it kept tripping out.  I know that it has tripped because the power button on the case does nothing until the switch on the power supply is turned off then turned on after a few seconds.

This power supply had been working so what has changed.  Then I had a hunch – the power supply also has two dedicated fan connectors for attaching fans – I do have a couple of fans on one of those cables – could they be the cause of the problem.

The Antec 1100 case has a fan power hub, that takes a molex connection and spreads it out to four 3-pin fan power connectors allowing additional case fans to be run.  I disconnected those fan cables and the power supply started running consistently.  That is until I thought I would test whether the fan cable can handle just one fan – I connected a single fan while everything was running and immediately – everything off.

Bad move!  After doing this, no matter what I did, removed all fans, removed the modular cables going to the dvd drive and the hard disks, leaving only the motherboard connected – the power supply was not going to work this time.  After resetting the power supply, press the case power button – the cpu fan would start spinning, then everything stops.  It happened more than 10 times in a row last night so I was ready to just throw the FSP power supply into the pool.  After calming down a little – I decided to “replace.it” with my Corsair HX650W power supply that I have in my Compaq Presario desktop.

I got out the original Compaq power supply from the Presario that I had put into the Corsair box – it was a 300W unit.  I had bought the replacement as I had previously upgraded to a nVidia 8800GT graphics card that needed more power, but have seen gone to an AMD Radeon 7850 which uses less power.  I removed the Corsair power supply – ever notice how much dust computers accumulate?  Also noticed a blown capacitor on the motherboard – that might explain the occasional blue screen that I had been getting recently – another story.

Now with the Corsair HX650W installed in the server – it powers up and I am happy to continue with my exporting and importing of virtual machines.

One thing that I do think of, is because of the multiple times that VMware has crashed due to the power supply shutdown – some of the data on the hard disk could be corrupted.  I don’t have a battery backup for the Adaptec 5805 array controller so any data that is going to the hard disk will not be stored.  It might be a good idea to buy the battery – it is about $150 or so and would allow data to be stored in the array controller cache then written to the disks on the next power up.  Also the Corsair power supply being a professional series – has a 7 year warranty, I will need to find the receipt and keep it handy, just in case.

[Note] Due to the multiple unintentional shutdowns, it might also be a good idea to reinstall the VMware ESXi to ensure that all the data is valid – I might do this after I get the battery and enable all the write caching, now that I have a good reliable power supply in the server.

Retask.IT, Replace.IT – Cryptomining & VMware ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Host Server

So, what has cryptomining got to do with VMware?

Late last year, when the bitcoin was around the US$600 mark, I embarked into cryptocurrency mining.  This was where I used my desktop together with some software like cgminer and began scrypt number crunching using my video card. During a couple of months of trial, I was mining Anoncoin, then moved on to Novacoin, and dabbled briefly on Peercoin which really didn’t work out. There was enough justification to go into this in a bigger way, i.e. 5 mining computers instead of one. I bought a few video cards, actually not a few, 3x Radeon 7950 cards, 7x Radeon 7850 cards, and a Radeon 7870 card. I even pressed into service my older Radeon 5850 card when gave up the ghost after its fan failed one day, but I replaced the fan and heatsink with an after-market cooler and kept it workng.  I played around with a lot of other cryptocoins – that is until the returns from mining would not cover the cost of our expensive electricity.  In addition the room was getting quite hot and having to have the aircon running during summer was just not acceptable. Okay – basically everything was shutdown in June this year, so now I have this hardware sitting around essentially doing nothing.

Retask.it” – the mining hardware, of course. My VMware ESXi 4.0 Host Server was getting old, having run for several years and perhaps now was an opportunity to “Replace.it“. The current version of VMware ESXi is 5.5 Update 2. I put together some hardware to test this version – and had lots of issues installing it because some previously working hardware was no longer supported. There is another story there that I might tell another day. Anyway, after creating my customized installation cd that contains the Realtek 8168 network drivers, and updated adaptec array controller drivers – I was ready to install the production server.

The current configuration for my server contains the following parts:

Asrock 970 Extreme 4 AMD AM3+ motherboard with AMD Athlon X3 420e triple-core cpu and 8GB of ram.  The motherboard can handle up to 64GB of ram, so is sufficient for future expansion. There is no onboard video so I had to buy a single slot Gigabyte GV-R545 video card which houses a Radeon 5450 for $33. I don’t need a high performance card, just one that is a low power card.  The disk storage is an Adaptec 5805 Sata Array Controller (this was found for $300, normally $700+) – initially with 3x WD 3TB Nas Red drives, configured with Raid Level 1E.  I chose the Nas Red drives because they are designed for 24 hr operation – a little more expensive but hopefully are worth it, only time will tell.

SONY DSC

My server needs multiple network cards, one for onboard management, one for internet connection, one for general network and one for backbone network.  Backbone is where I plan to have multiple host servers communicating – not implemented as yet.  The motherboard only has two PCI slots, so I could only install two network cards.  I have a couple of PCI-e networks cards on order – one of those will be for the backbone network.  I found from experience that having a few drives running 24 hours a day has a bit of heat, which requires a bit of cooling.  To that end, I have reused the Antec 1100 case to house all of these items.  This case is a very good for gaming and has lots of cooling, apparently better than the Corsair 500R that was also available.

One more thing is missing, the power supply – I have two FSP Aurum Pro 1000W power supplies left over – one of these was pressed into service and should easily handle another half a dozen drives for future expansion.  Almost forgot – add a cd/dvd-rom drive – I need one in order to install from my customized cd.  To save power, I can always disconnect it after installation – a good idea as this will be running 24×7, since one of the virtual machines is a firewall that protects my internal network from the world wide web.

Current capacity is 4.1TB of which I have used just 80GB, so still another 4000GB to go. If I add five more 3TB drives in Raid 5, this will give me 12TB additional capacity.  In comparison, the old ESXi 4.0 server had 5x 1TB drives in a Raid 1 and a Raid 5 configuration giving me a total of 3TB.  I didn’t know at the time that if I had upgraded the firmware on the Adaptec 5405 Sata Array Controller, I could have achieved this capacity with only 4 drives in Raid 5.  The older firmware at that time only allowed a maximum array size of 2TB to be created.  This was one of the benefits that came out of my testing of ESXi 5.5 – to work out what can be improved.

Anyway, still more work to do. Need to sort out all of the virtual machines, work out which to keep and migrate those to the new server. Better get on with it, I guess.

[PS]  There is a very good reason for including the updated adaptec array controller drivers in my customized installation cd.  During testing and installing adaptec monitoring software, I found that the included adaptec drivers that are bundled with VMware ESXi 5.5 Update 2 did not allow array monitoring, so I had to install some updated drivers from Adaptec.  After doing this, each time I rebooted the server, the datastore went missing.  The datastore houses all of the virtual machines – if this was missing, no virtual machines can run.  It turns out that upgrading the driver caused the VMware to think that the datastore is now a snapshot.  We cannot run from a snapshot (which is like a copy or an image), so the only thing that could be done to fix this permanently is to resignature the storage, but that meant I will need to relink every virtual machine (like 20 of them) – what a headache, so it is best not to upgrade the drivers unless absolutely necessary which means – use the right drivers from the start.
The technical document is here

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1011387